This isn’t a very nice subject to talk about, but a very big problem with our pets, and often talked about during Pet First Aid courses.
Most worms live inside your pet’s gut and will never be seen – so it’s important to prevent your pet becoming infected.
There are five different types of worms: tapeworms, roundworms, hookworms, heartworms and whipworms. Your dog will display different symptoms depending on what type of worm the pet has, so it’s important to recognise the signs and apply the right dog worming treatment when necessary.
Tapeworms look like flat ribbons and are made up of small segments. These segments can break off and be passed in your pet’s faeces. If you suspect your dog may be suffering from tapeworm, look closely at his faeces as these small segments can be visible (they could look like grains of white rice).
Signs your dog may have tapeworms include:
- Gradual weight loss
- Itchy bottom
- Dull Coat
- Extra licking of anal area.
Fleas act as a host for tapeworm, so the parasite is commonly transmitted when an animal accidentally swallows a flea during the grooming process. Some cats and dogs also contact tapeworm by ingesting or infected host, so animals that often hunt or scavenge are at an increased risk and definitely need regular worming treatments.
Speak to your vet, who will be able to advise the correct treatment and medication for your specific pet.
Roundworms are more worm-like in appearance than some of the other types of worms which can infect your dog. They may look like a piece of cooked spaghetti and can grow up to several cms long. Roundworms can be passed between dogs. It is quite common for dogs to be born with worms as they contract them from their mothers.
Signs your dog may have roundworms include:
- A ‘pot belly’
- Loss of appetite
Puppies are usually born infected with roundworm, and kittens and puppies can also become infected via their mothers’s milk.
Speak to your vet, who will advise the correct treatment, suitable for your pet.
Hookworms are similar in appearance to roundworms, but have teeth at one end. This allows them to ‘hook’ onto your dog’s intestine. Hookworms are parasites which survive by sucking blood from your pet, which could put your dog at risk of anaemia.
Signs your dog may have hookworms include:
- Dry cough
- Dull coat
- Weight loss
- Stomach ache
Speak to your vet, who will advise treatment suitable for your pet.
Heart and lung worms
As the name suggest, heartworms affect a dog’s heart. They are transferred to dogs by infected adult female mosquitoes. In most cases, by the time your dog displays any of the symptoms associated with heartworm, the disease has progressed to a very advanced stage. Fortunately, the infection can be picked up on routine blood test.
Signs your dog may have heartworms include:
- Weight loss
- Breathing problems
- Dull coat
- Enlarged abdomen
Dogs can become infected with this life-threatening parasite by swallowing infected slugs or snails, or potentially even their slime. This can happen by mistake when pets are eating grass, drinking from outdoor water bowls, rummaging in undergrowth or playing with a toy.
Although not as widespread in the UK, but if you suspect your dog is suffering any type of worm infection it is very important to consult your vet, who will prescribe the correct treatment, suitable for your pet.
Like hookworms, whipworms are bloodsucking parasites. However, these are particularly difficult to identify as they can’t be seen to the naked eye. Your dog is most likely to contract whipworms by coming into contact with other dogs’ faeces. This could be as simple as your pet licking their paws after waling on ground where infected faces lie.
Signs your dog may have whipworms include:
- Blood in faeces
- Weight loss
- Lick of stomach area
Seek vet advice
If you suspect your pet is suffering from any type of worm infection it is important to threat them quickly with the correct medication. Seek advise from your vet, who will ensure your pet gets the correct treatment, suitable for your pet.
Dogs should be ideally be wormed every three months.